92-year-old veteran speaks of amateur football career

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Baldwyn Athletic Football Club circa 1938 Baldwyn Athletic Football Club circa 1938

A 92-year-old World War Two veteran has spoken about his time with an amateur football team in the district.

William Field won the West Essex Football League in his three years with Baldwyn Athletic FC where he played both as a centre forward and on the left wing.

Having left school at 14 Mr Field took up a position as an apprentice mechanic and joined the club aged 16.

He said: “We used to play on an open piece of land in Epping Forest.

“It was marked out but the goalposts weren’t there so you’d have to stop off at the place where they were stored and take them up yourself.

“We didn’t train but we would have a kick around a couple of times a week.”

The Leyton Orient fan, who now lives in Lincolnshire, still recalls the clubs end of season celebration at Lopping Hall in High Road, Loughton.

He said: “The meal was the highlight of the season and all the boys would wear their best suits.
“It was a grand affair. The room was very nice and we would have music and entertainment after the meal.”

He was able to send The Guardian memorabilia from the dinners including a program and menu from 1938 signed by all the players.

The meal would be followed by entertainment with various acts invited such as musicians and performers.

A famous face which graced the 1938 event was the conjurer Herbert Collings who was a founder and two-time president of the Magic circle.

Visiting speakers were also invited the most notable of whom were professional footballers David McCulloch and Bobby Reid who played for Scotland and Brentford at the time.

The team disbanded in 1939 after many of the men were conscripted to the armed forces.

Mr Field was 19 at the time and continued to play for his regiment during the war.

After leaving the forces he joined the Royal British Legion team in Loughton where he was reunited with some of his former teammates.

The pensioner is still a keen follower of football and doesn’t feel the game has changed a great deal.

He said: “There has always been pushing and shoving and players trying to get an advantage one way or another.”

Mr Field was also optimistic about England’s chances following Friday’s World Cup draw for next year’s competition.

“We’ll draw with Italy, we’ll draw with Uruguay and we’ll beat Costa Rica and go through,” he predicted.

On the fate of his club team Orient he said: “I’m not going to predict anything for them. They’ve started very well but who knows what’s going to happen.”

Referring to recent match fixing allegations in English football Mr Field added:”It’s a shame to see people fixing the game but people have always gambled and I guess that’s life.”

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